Geri stood smiling behind the desk at the Selfridge Farmers Union. In the second aisle, on the bottom right corner sat two boxes of "Zotz" for $.39 They keep a box there for a hunter who comes down every year; they're her favorite. Under the counter sat paper bags of Tootsie Rolls marked for $1.00. The shop had a folksiness without the contrivances of Pinterest boards and trendy cafés. It was neighborly for its own sake, as though the town didn't know any other way to be.
I asked who I could talk to in town to get a feel for the place, hoping Geri herself would offer to talk. She demurred, "You'll want to talk to Frank over there. See that yellow house? He's in there. He'll probably be the best one to chat with; he's the sheriff."
Frank's house was patrolled by a shaggy black mutt that growled protectively at anything moving. His house was quaint, rugs hanging off the porch railings. A new black SUV with a crisp "SHERIFF" emblazoned on the side seemed out of place in the town of dirt roads and old pickup trucks. I rang the front doorbell, Frank came out of the garage. After answering a few wary questions and name dropping Geri from the Farmers Union, I got a window into the man who, for all intents and purposes, is the town of Selfridge himself.
In Frank's case, he wanted to get away a bit. When he was of age the Army offered him a chance to leave Selfridge. Frank, like many teenagers, wanted to see the world away from home for a while.
When he came back, his town was beginning to change.
Frank was rooted in Selfridge and stayed anchored at a time when the town itself seemed to be floating away.
He policed his county with a fatherly fervor for decades in relative peace. The town had changed from his youth, but it had found a groove. Things changed again with the arrival of oil - not for the better.
Frank has presided over the transition seen across the American Midwest with the arrival of oil. His unique challenge was the Standing Rock protests. His county, Sioux County is the home of the Standing Rock reservation and the site of the protest camp that drew national attention.
Asked about his hopes and fears, Frank's mind returned to his community as though he had long since sublimated himself to service of it's interests.